Be Good to Me: How Advertising Students Made San Jose Think Twice About Illegal Dumping

John Delacruz
Professor of Advertising
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
San Jose State University

Creativity is a powerful driver for brand communications. Entertaining and engaging, we tell the world stories across media channels that encourage consumption and allow brands a central role in shaping identities, communities and history. The skills learnt by students on creative programs can be a force for good. As educators in the field of advertising and other creative industries we should be guiding our students to make ethically minded decisions, not just to continue the cycle of consumption of which we, as communicators, are integral spokes.

In this case study they learn the importance of empathy and how this becomes a strength in the communications process, they learn to respond to a real life client and a real life target group. They also learn about issues that impact the community, the environment, and become better informed citizens. Our students have grown up with social currency, they are a sharing generation, global citizens, media aware and ethically minded. They are already switched on to alternative futures and therefore open to guidance on how to use their creativity for good.

This case study will focus on one specific example of service learning from the advertising program at San Jose State University. Our client was the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Division in collaboration with CommUniverCity. The brief was to inform citizens of San Jose about illegal dumping. Our students crafted a campaign that spoke of the relationships between our everyday stuff and ourselves, reminding us to treat our treasures with respect when the time comes to let them go. They worked in an agency team and learnt about issues affecting urban neighborhoods and the environment. The program offered them experience reflecting the world of work and the world around them, civic responsibility and storytelling. They have hopefully become informed, engaged and aware citizens as well as effective and creative communicators.

Design Crew Course: Human Context and Service Learning in Visual Communication

Mark DeYoung
Professor
Kalamazoo Valley CC

In Rick Poynor’s book on Jan Van toorn, the author lays out the designer’s philosophy for a more inclusive dialogic approach to design. Rather than authoritarian monologue, this re-envisioning of design respects the viewer, encourages collaboration and is dialogic, in pursuit of what German author Hans Magnus Enzensberger would call emancipatory media. This approach is gaining ground in design practice. Indeed, collaborative, iterative processes are increasingly employed in order to develop more complete solutions that are integrative in their approach, taking into account user, client, and community. Design scholars from Davis to Norman, McCoy to Heller, along with industry champions Martin and Brown continue to advocate for a people-focused approach to design through design thinking—coordinating cognitive collaboration with practical facility to solve problems.

Working in this direction, this paper reflects on the pedagogical and theoretical underpinnings of a media-independent, visual communications course, Design Crew. The Design Crew is a merit-based, advanced-level design course that provides students with the opportunity to work with real clients in the non-profit sector. The course engages students through an experiential learning method, integrating meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich and deepen the learning experience in design, encourage lifelong civic engagement and strengthen relationships that create community. Student designers use design thinking processes as they collaborate with their clients: researching and defining the problem; choosing appropriate media and prototyping solutions; developing final designs and evaluating the success of the solution. Successes and challenges of collborations and design projects are featured.

Service-learning: A Natural Fit in Design Education?

M. Genevieve Hitchings
Assistant Professor
Advertising Design & Graphic Arts
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

College level design courses can provide students with opportunities to work effectively in collaboration with actual clients. Such projects, undertaken jointly by faculty, students, and clients, develop student skills not only in design, but also in research, and in communicating with the public. Carefully chosen projects can also be of benefit to society, and offer advantages over work confined to the classroom. Since a large part of what we do in communication design is geared at problem solving for clients, service learning seems a natural fit in design education; and presents students with unique opportunities to work on projects focused on critical social issues. And yet when put into practice ethical dilemma can arise that are not so simple to navigate when teaching a class. This presentation highlights difficulites faculty-contemplating bringing a client into a design class may encounter.